October 16, 2007, - 3:52 pm

2.5 Cheers for the Arad Family: Family of Missing Soldier Opposes Release of Terrorist (But for Wrong Reasons)

By Debbie Schlussel
Two-and-a-half cheers for the family of missing Israeli soldier Ron Arad. Gone since 1986, Arad is believed to be held either in Iran or by Hezbollah in Lebanon, where he was captured by the Shi’ite Amal Militia (once headed by former Detroiter Nabih Berri, Head of the Lebanese Parliament who negotiated on behalf of Hezbollah in the TWA 847 hijacking).


Ron Arad: Missing Israeli Soldier Hled by Hezbollah/Iran

The Arads publicly oppose the release of an Iranian terrorist by Germany in exchange for the freedom of Isreali soldiers. The Iranian is a high-value prisoner, as he’s an intelligence official. I wish I could say that this takes special guts and a genuine understanding of the world of terrorism. I wish I could say that, despite their suffering and the ongoing quest for Ron Arad’s return, they get it. But they are not openly opposing the exchange of terrorists for kidnapped Israeli soldiers. They are only opposing it because their father/brother is not also part of the exchange. I can’t say I blame them. But reasonable minds oppose all exchanges, deals, etc. with terrorists . . . whether or not it involves your father, brother, or a total stranger.
The Arads flew to Germany to impress the point on officials there and demand that the Iranian prisoner not be released. I hope hope they are more successful than the family of U.S. Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem, who tried in vain to stop Germany from releasing their brother’s Hezbollah killer to freedom.
This is in slight contrast with Noam Shalit, the annoying left-wing father of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, about whom I’ve written. He has become something like Israel’s Cindy Sheehan, partying it up with the family of a Palestinian terrorist and demanding that hundreds of terrorist murderers be released, whether or not it is in exchange for his son. Either way, these terrorist releases are a big mistake.
Right now, the Iranian prisoner/intelligence officer in Germany is scheduled to be exchanged for two other Isreali soldiers, captured last summer at the start of the Israel-Hezbollah war.
You deal with terrorists, you get burned . . . or blown up.
More on the Arads and the terrorist exchange from Rory Kress of The Jerusalem Post:

A day before the 21st anniversary of navigator Ron Arad’s capture, his daughter and brother flew to Germany on Monday to meet with Attorney-General Monica Harms, in a final attempt to prevent the release of Iranian intelligence officer Kazem Darabi, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1991 in German custody.
They left before the Israel-Hizbullah exchange on Monday evening was announced.
Arad’s daughter Yuval and his brother Chen refused comment to the press, while the media reported rumors of a deal between Germany and Iran to release Darabi in exchange for reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose kidnapping by Hizbullah launched the Second Lebanon War last summer. Both Regev and Goldwasser were at one time believed to have been transferred to Iran soon after their capture – both Israel and Iran, however, have since denied that claim.
The Arad family believes senior Iranian officer Darabi to be one of their final hopes for a prisoner exchange leading to Ron’s release.
Arad’s fate has been a mystery since 1986, after he ejected from his F-4 Phantom II over Lebanon during a mission to bomb PLO targets near Sidon.
Originally captured by Amal, a Shi’ite Militia, it is believed that Arad was sold to Hizbullah in 1988. Over the past two decades, various signs of life from Arad have been made public, though the evidence has largely been inconclusive, leading many Israelis to believe him dead.
The most recent news of Arad surfaced in 2006 when Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizbullah, said he believed him dead. In August of 2006, a previously unseen video of Arad smoking a cigarette in his cell was released. In the video – believed to have been filmed in 1988 – he lists his training and studies, speaking in muffled, at times inaudible English.
One organization which is continuing to raise awareness not only about Arad, but about other Israeli MIAs as well, is the Born to Freedom Foundation. The foundation is offering $10 million for any new and relevant information that can lead to the rescue of Arad, Guy Hever, Zvi Feldman or Yehuda Katz.
The Born to Freedom Foundation has been at the forefront of seeking information on Arad, spurring thousands of people worldwide to participate in an effort to uncover new activity in the case.
Eyal Ben-Reuven, who took charge of the Born to Freedom Foundation only a few weeks ago, spoke with The Jerusalem Post about the Arad family’s latest attempt to secure information about Ron.
“The [Arad] family feels that we need to continue to put forth every effort in order to bring him home‚Ķ they feel it’s a responsibility of the government to solve the issue and bring him home,” Ben-Reuven explained.
“We continue to believe that [Ron Arad] is alive – that is the basis of our organization – and we will do everything we can‚Ķ to bring him home.”

Again, no terrorist prisoners should be released in exchange for Israeli soldiers. America has it right: We officially never deal with terrorists (other than on our own soil, definitely a mistake).
Time for Israel to copy that and for America to encourage it.

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4 Responses

Hi Debbie,
Thanks for the great in-depth reporting.

Maksim-Smelchak on October 16, 2007 at 4:47 pm

I think having a black and white policy such as you propose is not prudent. In war, all options should be on the table. I also do not agree that there is no military value in recovering a soldier who cannot be returned to service.
I think a country should never negotiate under a time pressured “countdown”. I like how the Russians have dealt with those scenarios in the past few years..brutally. But that is not the case here. Prisoners being held indefinitely are a different situation in my view. As long as there is a genuine willingness to let the prisoner rot if the terms are not favorable, negotiating is fine. These exchanges yield military and public morale benefits, impact the morale of the enemy in subtly beneficial ways, and present an opportunity to insert prisoners-turned-informant into the enemy’s ranks.

melchloboo on October 16, 2007 at 6:25 pm

I’m in favor of decimating, and then annexing, one city per day for every day that an Israeli soldier is held. I have a feeling that would nip this kidnapping practice in the bud. If nothing else, we would reclaim our holy land in no time at all.

AmericanJewess on October 17, 2007 at 9:10 am

Being a Christian Lebanese myself I know those people very well. The more you give them the more they demand. The US administration and for this regard here the Israeli one are committing huge mistake when they attempt to negotiate with the terrorist organization (mainly Hezzballah). The failure of the last Israel’s war against Hezzballah in southern Lebanon hugely benefited HA in making them a legend among Arabs.

George Abouzeid on October 19, 2007 at 5:29 pm

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